As the Muskie senior girls’ basketball team prepare to do battle against a new slate of opponents this year, its only concern is to get better by season’s end.
After winning a pair of regular-season games last season, the team made great strides. But this time around, co-coach Gord McCabe is more concerned with developing players rather than wins and losses
The Muskies have a solid core of veterans in Karen Harris, Veronica Meyers, and Laureen Cousineau back for another year, which should give them plenty of size and talent up front.
“Karen Harris has really come together for us and Meyers is a tough player,” McCabe said of his two top forwards. “And Laureen is our best shooter [who] we expect big things from.”
The team’s strength should be its size although McCabe warned that extra size means they may be a tad slower in the early going.
In fact, McCabe said they won’t press as much on defence as in the past. Instead, they will be playing a more passive, man-to-man style, staying away from the zone defensive system until later in the season.
Offensively, McCabe said the team will be trying to move the ball inside more than in past years, trying to take advantage of their height against what should be some much smaller teams.
With the collapse of the NorWOSSA circuit due to on-going contract woes between the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and its high school teachers, the Muskies will play a modified schedule this season against ‘A’ teams in Atikokan, Rainy River, Whitefish Bay, Pelican Falls, and Thomas Aquinas (Kenora).
“I really have no idea how good the other teams are going to be,” said McCabe. “Our goal is just to be as good a team as we can be, and it doesn’t matter if we play Atikokan, Rainy River, or the Chicago Bulls.”
And he stressed just because their opponents have a smaller pool of talent to choose from doesn’t mean they have any less talent.
“We played both Atikokan and Rainy River, and although we controlled the game, both had good teams and we didn’t walk away with either game,” he noted.
Meanwhile, other players who have impressed McCabe and co-coach Kent Kowalski so far during practice are Christine Noonan, who should give the team some much-needed quickness on defence, and rookie Siobhan Devlin, who brings a wealth of size to the Muskies underneath.
Devlin, a key player with the Muskie junior team last year, is expected to be a force inside for the black-and-gold by bringing down defensive rebounds.
The Muskies get their first taste of action today when they travel to Atikokan, then they’ll make the long road trip to Timmins for a weekend tournament.